Love Comes Later

Love Comes Later - Mohanalakshmi Rajakumar When you think of Qatar what is the first image that your neurons conjure? For me, it was a barrel seeping with crude oil. Yes, I am ashamed that such a diverse and exotic country was reduced to a stereotype in my mind. This is why I decided to take on reviewing this book. I wanted to have a cultural experience so I could value the country for what it really is. Reading Love Comes Later, has taught me a grand lesson - to never judge a book by its cover. Literally, I was not a fan of the cover of the book. But then, that does not mean the content would have been bad. Just a personal thing.Figuratively, I wanted to have more insight on the true beauty of Qatar and its people, rather than sticking to the Western portrayal as Qatar being a place of oil, sand dunes, and pearl diving. This book did a marvelous job at that. I have proudly extended my already limited foreign language vocabulary and realized what it is like to be a Muslim living in Qatar or a Hindu in the United States. I guess that Rajukumar was hoping for Love Comes Later to be a microcosm of a country she cherishes.A strong element of this multicultural read was its plot. This novel had an intricate story-line With so many characters, it was sometimes hard to keep up with who was who. I eventually made a little key guide to each character and their role. I actually enjoyed doing that. The first few pages were intense and tragic. It was really "in your face". I was a bit scared to continue reading, but eventually the events subdued to unravel the somber Abdulla as he mourns the loss of his loved one. I do not want to give away the plot, but I must say I was completely satisfied when I finished the book. I will definitely read it over again.Such an exciting plot, could not be without a spectacular dramatis personae of rounded characters. I noticed that most of them were influenced by Western ideals. I did not find this surprising at all living in a Central American country. It is so easy to displace your optimum culture for the sake of freedom from religious and other traditional restraints. Rajakumar was very blatant that the leading family was Westernized, yet they still clung to many of their traditional Muslim beliefs. I know it must have been so difficult to translate such conflicting ideas to paper, but Rajakumar was excellent - she was diplomatic . Then like every good book, there is that twist. Let me tell you that the twist in Love Comes Later will hit you like a brick. Soon you are entangled in a web of lovers, which is when the read picks up its pace.Though there is a host of characters, not all of them are profound enough to mention. Abdulla, the main character, is a widower who places all the guilt of his wife and unborn child's death on his hands. He is absorbed in his business and shuts himself away from his family and his deity. I was very sad for him, and things just get worse when his family (even his ex-father-in-law) thrusts him into marriage with Hind, his cousin. Hind was not my cup of tea at all. She was very self-seeking and only cared for the benefits of marrying Abdulla (ie. getting to study abroad). She was quite thoughtless, but I guess this can account for her youth. Though she was not my favorite character, I can understand that she wanted a taste of freedom. Rajakumar really developed her characters well. With the main characters experiencing such crushing internal conflict, it heightened my interest level, and eventually I was left stunned with their decisions. You will too.As for her writing style, I was quite impressed. Her didactic tone was necessary in such an exotic read. She taught me a lot about the culture of Qataris. However, sometimes I felt overwhelmed with all the Western references. Though I understand that Western culture is embedded in the family, I really did not need to be reminded that Abdulla had a Blackberry every time he used it. Rajakumar also was meticulous with her dialogue. Each character spoke a certain way, which made it easier to identify them - even without my handy character reference guide. I notice that a lot of authors tend to lose the personality of their characters, especially when there are a lot to count. Rajakumar did not do that one bit.Love Comes Later is a read that not only portrays Qatar, but one that also fortifies that romance can supersede the pangs of prejudice and the frowns of grief.